“I was caught off-guard,” remarked Grace Yeo at the Secaucus Board of Education meeting on April 13. Yeo, the board secretary and business administrator, was commenting on the public recognition she received at the meeting held at Huber Street School. The popular staff member was granted tenure by the board and was publicly acknowledged by interim Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Knops and school principals Steven Viggiani, Rob Valente, and Dr. Bob Berckes. Valente commented on the “small town feel” of Secaucus that “Grace” embodies. Viggiani (speaking for himself and principal Linda Wilhelm) said that Grace was aptly named as she epitomized the word grace. In response to all this deserved praise, Grace Yeo stated that “every work day is a pleasure.” She thanked everyone for their kind words, saying that “I’m proud to call Secaucus [and the school district] home.”
The board trustees also praised Yeo. Kathy O’Connell addressed Yeo: “When you signed your contract, you didn’t realize it was a lifetime contract!” Sharon Dellafave was amazed at the “facts and figures” Yeo has readily available… “matched by her warm personality.” Lou Giele called Yeo “a consummate professional.” Another board office employee, Fran Bialkowski, was offered congratulations on her birthday (April 12). Grace Yeo offered that it had been a festive day at the board office with birthday celebrations for Fran and also for Eileen Losurdo (April 15).
School principals and board members offered favorable comments on the recent High School production of Shrek, The Musical at the Performing Arts Center. Rob Valente noted that several of his Middle School students had prominent roles in the musical. “It was unbelievable!” remarked High School principal Dr. Bob. Trustee Giele commented on “the wealth of talent” involved in the production. “It was a great play!” Graduation commencement and promotion ceremony dates were announced. They are, June 21, middle school; June 22, high school, and June 20, the fifth grade Clarendon and Huber Street promotions. The date of the June 22 board meeting was changed to June 15 due to the high school graduation ceremony that evening.
With regret the board accepted the resignation of Dr. Hope Blecher, who was in her first year as the district’s director of curriculum. Psychologist Dr. James Yost was welcomed to the district by Superintendent Knops. Yost will serve as a counselor at the high school. He addressed the board, explaining that he resides in Little Falls and that “education is in my family.” Yost further explained that he left his private practice for “the greatest job I ever had,” working with special-education kids in a school setting. “Communication is essential between the student, family, school, and faculty. We’re all connected, no matter what time of day or where we are. Students must know that they matter.” Dr. Yost’s salary is $63,049 plus a $1,000 stipend for his Ph.D. status.
The monthly “Showcase of Success” was held at the start of the meeting in a slightly abbreviated fashion because several students who were to be featured were away on spring break. Clarendon student Laila Lemise and her teacher, Nicole Hernandez, received honors for earning Barnes & Noble recognition for Laila’s poem about her teacher, while high school students Kaitlyn O’Connell, Zishan Patel, David Perez, Nadar Alkhabbaz, and Kendryck Ceballo were recognized for placing first in the Hudson County Consumer Bowl competition. This was the fifth consecutive year the Consumer Bowl team won the county championship. The team went on the regional competition and placed second in the final round. Advisor Alexis Chisari joined her students in receiving recognition.
The school board will hold a public hearing on the 2017-18 school budget on Thursday, May 4, at 7 p.m. at Huber Street School. The board will also hold special meetings on May 1, May 5, and May 9, all at 5:30 p.m. at Huber Street, for the purpose of interviewing applicants for the position of superintendent of schools. The board will, however, immediately convene into closed session with no action taken following the interviews. The next regular monthly meeting will be held Thursday, May 1, at Huber Street School.